Four Waccamaw High athletes signed National Letters of Intent on May 15 in the school's auditorium, the final signing day of the 2018-19 school year. In total, 15 Warrior student-athletes have made decisions to play for a college team.
Haley vonAchen, Lacrosse, Lander University
Initially, vonAchen said, she had no intentions of playing college lacrosse until the Warriors played the second round of the South Carolina High School League playoffs against Oceanside Collegiate. During the Warriors loss, vonAchen told her dad she didn’t want to stop playing.
“It was halftime and I was so fired up,” she said. “And I said I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to throw this adrenaline rush out the door.”
Luckily for her, one of the coaches from Lander was scouting a player from Oceanside, but noticed vonAchen and found Waccamaw athletic director and boys lacrosse coach Dan Minkin to inquire about the senior.
“Props go to coach Minkin for talking me up and building that relationship and connection,” she said.
As vonAchen walked through the grocery store with her family after the game, not knowing what her future would hold, head coach Sarena Flewelling found vonAchen and relayed the news from Minkin.
“She said, ‘The Lander coach was there and he wants you,’” vonAchen said.
She plans to study kinesiology during her time at Lander.
James Alston, Football, Community Christian College
At the beginning of the football season, Warrior head coach Shane Fidler knew, given the circumstances, that it would be difficult for Alston to sign with a college in February.
“I told him you might not get that February day,” Fidler said. “But it doesn’t matter when you sign, it just matters if you do sign.”
When February rolled around and many other high school football players across the state made their college decisions, Alston was still waiting for an opportunity.
“I was proud of them,” Alston said. “But it weighed on me. But I kept my head up and prayed about it.”
Fidler and Alston had a backup plan, however, and called several junior college programs and Alston was called for several tryouts before deciding on Community Christian.
“This is his chance to reset himself, to reset his grades, to reset his mindset and to get into a new culture,” Fidler said. “He’s one of the most passionate kids about a sport I’ve ever seen. He loves football.”
Alston said he will be studying sports medicine in college and Fidler said Alston will graduate on June 5 and will start course work at Community Christian the following week.
Katie Spence, Cross Country/Track, Coker University
Spence started training just two years ago after she decided to run behind her brother’s bike to test her skills.
“I just wanted to see if I could run. I didn’t think about how hard that could be and I could barely run .5 miles,” Spence said. “After that, I realized this could be a new challenge for me to overcome and I was looking for something to do.”
After training for a year, Spence decided it was time for her to test her new running skills by joining the cross country and track teams at Waccamaw.
“It was the best thing I ever decided to do in high school,” she said.
Warrior coach Bill Peterman said he believes she will excel at the next level.
“She is just a great kid. She’s a grinder. She’s got that blue collar work ethic that you need in the real world. I think she’ll do great.”
Spence said she had offers from other schools, but the family atmosphere around Coker tipped the scales for her.
“This is a new chapter in my life and I’m super excited,” Spence said. “I met the coach and he seemed really willing to devote his time to every single thing that I was doing. It was an all around awesome experience.”
Spence said she hopes to join the Pre-Veterinary program.
Weston Stokes, Cross Country/Track, North Greenville University
A few weeks before, Stokes had decided on a school that had not offered him an athletic scholarship, but a text message from the North Greenville coach changed everything.
“This is crazy for me because for while I didn’t know what I was going to do and until yesterday I didn’t even think I would be signing. I’m excited to know this is for sure my path,” Stokes said. “My friend Jackson Jenkins runs at North Greenville and I guess he mentioned something to the coach because I got a text from the North Greenville coach and asked what my times were and if I would be interested. It seems like such a cool place.”
Stokes was part of the Warriors 4x800-meter relay team that won the SCHSL 3A state title May 13. Waccamaw track coach Bill Peterman said Stokes is a great problem solver, which helps with his running.
“He’s a really hard worker. He improved drastically this season and I think he is just going to get better at the next level. I’m excited to see not only how he does running but how he does with his art.”
Stokes said he will be studying art and would like to produce movies after college.